Realistic Indoor Training: The Saris MP1
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Indoor training is, for most, the punchline to a cruel joke. It’s an activity permanently relegated to be a secondary option—what you do when the weather won’t cooperate. Saris wants to change that, or at least increase the quality of that indoor training time.
Images Courtesy of Saris/Balint Hamvas
Saris’ solution: The MP1, an analog balance board that sits beneath a trainer, providing fore, aft and side-to-side movement. A bike and trainer strap to the top of this birchwood and steel board. Beneath the birch top lies a steel framework of rollers and a peened leaf spring with adjustable spring rates of up to six degrees per side. Saris calls this Nfinity and it provides just enough movement to feel like a real life bike ride, be it simply spinning along or climbing out of the saddle. At 60 pounds, the MP1 is substantial enough to not budge under hard efforts.
By introducing some movement into training, not only does the enjoyment of indoor training go up, but ride comfort does as well, says Saris. Using the MP1 relieves pressure from both the saddle and pedal touchpoints, says Saris. And training quality goes up with the realistic feeling, too. The movement of the trainer requires your muscles to engage to help maintain balance, as they do on a real ride. Plus, it engages muscles more realistically throughout the body, including the upper body.
We had a chance to try out the new board and we were impressed by our brief time with it. The experience feels secure, both in terms of the interface between the trainer and the MP1 itself and the amount of movement it introduces into a ride. The build quality is substantial and the straps that hold the trainer on are secure and easy to adjust. It definitely succeeds in making trainer time more valuable, and even something to look forward to—especially when paired with virtual training tools like Zwift. And because it is entirely analog, there is no need to worry about software updates or buggy tech breaking down unexpectedly during a ride. Saris says it needs to be used with the included front wheel block to maintain the most realistic road feel possible.
The MP1 comes assembled, ready to use right out of the box. It is compatible with Saris’ full line of trainers (formerly CycleOps trainers) as well as nearly any other trainer on the market thanks to adjustable docking points. The only downside at this point is cost: $1,200 is not cheap. But for those looking for the most realistic indoor training experience possible, this is definitely something to add to the setup.